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Like a girl that keeps bringing back around the same guy after a few minor tweaks and changes, it was supposed to be different this time for Indiana football. However, after another mind-numbing loss … perhaps the most damaging of the Kevin Wilson era … Indiana football truly finds itself at a crossroads.
To his credit, Indiana athletic director Fred Glass has made football a priority the likes of which it never feels like it has been in prior years. He’s also been extremely patient with Wilson, who wisely just tore down the program and set a low rebuilding bar after year one with zero victories over FBS teams.
The Bowling Green loss this past weekend is damning, though. Yes, this is a BGSU team that won the MAC championship last season, but it was also a BGSU team that got tarred and feathered by the Hoosiers in the 2013 non-conference season. It also was a BGSU team that lost by 28 to Western Kentucky in week one this season. Almost to rub salt in the wound, the Falcons’ quarterback — who threw a waning-second game-winning touchdown pass against the Hoosiers — hails from Fort Wayne, Ind.
The Falcons had 39 first downs, three shy of the Big Ten record set by … damn, why do these things come so full circle … Indiana last year against Purdue. Their offense snapped the ball a staggering 113 times.
Things were supposed to be different this year for the Hoosiers, with Brian Knorr coming in to change a dreadful defense that, even if it was just simply bad, might enable IU to consistently reach bowl games. But it’s not doing so. For all the offense Kevin Wilson has delivered, the defense has been routinely horrid.
Worse than that, Wilson alluded to his veteran players looking like they had one foot out the door mentally, which is not a harbinger of success. Wilson has been in Bloomington too long to blame it on “the last guy’s players.” This is an issue.
“At halftime, we have seniors that now are playing part-time. And I saw some looks on the faces that I didn’t like,” he said.
Whether you’re stocked with 5-stars or a plucky bunch of under-recruited kids, it doesn’t matter if you’re not walking into the game ready to defeat the guy in the shirt across from you. You’ve got to be all in. That quote above, plus a few other statements Wilson made after this loss to Bowling Green, indicates that Indiana still has too many players who are not fully invested in the program. You’re only as solid as those willing to lead you, so long as you maintain being a follower.
You can fix a lot of things easily … fundamentals, how you run plays, putting guys in more beneficial positions … but it’s tough to change “want to,” or rather, not having it.
Of the many teams scuffling around in the Big Ten, some will use a softer conference to slip into bowl games and have fans call off the early season dogs. Right now there are few situations in the Midwest that look more confusingly lost than the one in Bloomington.